Before I begin, I want to challenge an increasingly popular fallacy. It has become a talking point of the political left to insist there are no such thing as low-skilled workers. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D–N.Y.) for example, tweeted earlier this year that “the suggestion that any job is ‘low skill’ is a myth perpetuated by wealthy interests to justify inhumane working conditions, little/no healthcare, and low wages.” Many have since jumped on the bandwagon to make the same point. But it’s utter nonsense.
If simply calling workers “low-skilled” allowed employers to underpay and overwork them, then every worker in America would be labeled as such and paid a pittance, including professional sports stars and neurosurgeons.
While the Thanksgiving holiday is normally spent in memory of the semi-mythical 1621 feast between recently arrived Puritans and local Native Americans, a settler who arrived a decade later is a much better-suited hero for the more liberty-minded among us.
Roger Williams, known best as the founder of Rhode Island, was a Puritan minister, an early advocate for the separation of church and state, and, as writer Sarah Vowell describes in her 2008 book on the early Massachusetts Bay Colony, “a fully-formed crank, a man whom even Puritans dismiss as a tad too fanatical.”
However, Vowell has a soft spot for the oft-zealous minister—one I and many other libertarians share. As she writes, despite William’s eccentricity and fanaticism, “He is nevertheless principled, self-confident, forthright, and true to himself.”
Williams was a unique character in America’s early colonial history. Driven by, above all else, a fierce devotion to a demanding God, Williams was nonetheless unwilling to use that devotion to justify punishing dissenters. Ironically, one of the most stridently zealous Puritans ended up building one of the world’s first secular governments.
Which finally brings me to Matt Yglesias. At the risk of being uncharitable, I find that Yglesias personifies naive realism, meaning that he writes as if he is utterly convinced that his view of the world is the true one.
Often, he comes up with ways to solve problems using technocratic ideas. One recent inspiration is to spend a fortune on research to develop plant-based alternatives to meat. Not his own money, of course, but money from taxpayers. The goal is to eventually come up with products that are cost-competitive and taste-competitive with meat, with lower carbon dioxide emissions than the meat production cycle.
Yglesias does not talk about the possibility that the project could fail along some dimension. He does not mention that $3.8 trillion invested in renewable energy over the past ten years reduced the share of fossil fuels in energy consumption by just 1 percent. He does not talk about risks, such as the possibility that artificial meat will require additives that when consumed in large quantities turn out to cause cancer. He does not talk about how this sort of program typically turns into a keg party for rent-seekers.
There is no room for doubt. Since he has a solution to a problem, then by golly, he has a solution. And government is just the institution to implement it.
Litigation financing is normally done through confidential contracts, and disclosure generally isn’t required. Researchers are mostly in the dark about the extent of control by funders or the number and types of cases they influence. Thus the overall effects of litigation financing on American innovation and economic dynamism can’t be measured.
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce Institute for Legal Reform warns of the foreign danger in a Nov. 2 report titled “A New Threat: The National Security Risk of Third Party Litigation Funding.” Foreign financiers might see this opaque third-party funding mechanism as an exploitable fissure in the U.S. legal system through which to weaponize the courts for strategic goals.
Foreign adversaries can fund frivolous litigation to overwhelm U.S. courts, target lawsuits to weaken critical industries, or obtain confidential materials through the discovery process. Enemy funders might also push theories or use court filings as part of the well-documented disinformation campaigns they already wage through social media.
The report recommends disclosure and transparency requirements to reveal the existence of litigation financing by foreign states or their agents. But this threat requires an even more serious response: If a foreign adversary is funding lawsuits in the U.S., that country should be deemed to have waived its immunity from being sued in U.S. courts. This should apply to all cases, even those it isn’t funding. Congress should amend the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act accordingly.
The English department at the University of Greenwich in London has issued a trigger warning for Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s Rime of the Ancient Mariner. Not only does the 1798 poem feature the shooting of an albatross with a crossbow, which is clearly upsetting to the anxious, herbivore students of today, it also contains references to “supernatural possession” and “human death”.
I remember studying the Ancient Mariner at university with no noticeable ill effects, but that was back in the days when we still had “women” and “men” who were allowed to fancy each other so maybe we weren’t enlightened enough to be offended.
The Wall Street Journal‘s Editorial Board is unsurprisingly unsurprised by the failure and futility – from the perspective of the Chinese people – of the Chinese state’s tyrannical policy of zero covid. A slice:
Remember when China’s handling of Covid-19 was supposed to be a global model? Western public-health sages looked fondly on Beijing’s zero-Covid policy as an alternative to America’s messy democratic decision to live with the virus after the disastrous initial lockdowns. Well, so much for that.
As the third anniversary of the Covid outbreak nears, China is reporting record infections. The daily highs are surpassing April’s surge in Shanghai, which shut down for two months. Outbreaks are occurring across China, and cities are again imposing lockdowns. Nomura, the Japanese brokerage, estimates that more than a fifth of the country is under restricted movement.